November 27 - December 3, 2016: Issue 291

Bayview Baths Centenary Celebration

L to R: Dr. Jenny Rosen AM BCPRA Committee Member, Roberta Conroy BCPRA President, David Williams BCPRA Committee Member, Kylie Ferguson, Northern Beaches Council, Hon. Rob Stokes, MP for Pittwater.
ON Sunday November 20th the Bayview-Church Point Residents Association hosted a Centenary Celebration of the Bayview Baths on site.

Welcomed by Roberta Conroy, BCPRA President, Members of the Association as well as guests and many who had memories of playing at the baths when children, gathered at the small reserve adjacent to baths to the boatshed. A photographic display chronicling the stages of Bayview Baths, some great music provided by three students from the Sydney Conservatorium and reminiscing on days past and days present in glorious sunshine.

The Bayview-Church Point Residents Association and residents of these estuarine suburbs would like to see the baths restored. To that end they approached the Office of Rob Stokes, MP for Pittwater who arranged for Sydney Water to begin running tests to determine why the Bayview Baths has, for the last few years, in subsequent State of the Beaches reports been graded as 'poor'. 

Dr Jenny Rosen AM, a Committee Member of the Bayview Church Point Residents Association thanked Mr. Stokes as in 2015 he achieved an undertaking from Sydney Water to check on water quality and monitor this and to work with the local council to remedy this should council also work as part of this as part of their responsibility for this site.

Mr. Stoke’s Office confirmed on Friday November 18th that Sydney Water are Testing at Bayview Baths and have as part of this in Stage 1 begun Dry Weather quality testing underway – two rounds have been conducted and will proceed to Stage 2, Wet Weather quality testing, which will follow early next year, dependent on the weather. Dr. Rosen further explained that Sydney Water plan to arrange meetings with the local community to gather their insights.

Mr. Stokes confirmed Sydney Water were working to determine exactly what was causing the water quality issues at the baths, so they may be remedied and council could then be secure about making an investment to reinstate the pool. 

The Member for Pittwater had been asked to unveil a plaque commemorating the historic site and prefaced this with a few of his own memories of playing at the baths when a toddler. 

"As Edmund Burke once said, 'Society is a contract between the living, the dead and the as yet unborn.' Mr. Stokes said

"Our Heritage, as the word suggests, is our inheritance, and is something we have received from the past and for which we have an obligation to remember it, to celebrate it and to pass it on to future generations. 

As I have the honour of unveiling this plaque, I hope it will stand as a reminder to this beautiful part of the world, that it is our duty and obligation to protect and look after, that they can share something of the heritage, that they can see something of the natural beauty, and they can be inspired as we’ve been inspired, to help make this place even more beautiful and even better looked after.

I would like to thank each and every one of you for your advocacy for Bayview, for Church Point, for remembering its amazing heritage."

Also attending on Sunday were the Honourable Bronwyn Bishop, members of the volunteer Marine Rescue Broken Bay led by Unit Commander Victor Lawrence and Kylie Ferguson.

Prior to the Member for Pittwater's Address an overview of the Bayview Baths, also included in the program, was delivered by Dr. Rosen in which she recalled that the baths had once run up to the road and the reserve and carpark created had been undertaken by the Williams family as part of an agreement between them and the then Warringah Shire Council to expand their business. We include here, along with some 'now' photos, DR. Rosen's timeline for readers.

BAYVIEW BATHS: Historical Summary
Collated by Dr. Jenny Rosen AM

Early days 
Shortly after the arrival of the First Fleet the previously healthy local Aboriginal people were, as in many areas surrounding Sydney Cove, decimated by an introduced smallpox- like disease. When the first European settlers arrived in the Pittwater area in 1814, there was plentiful evidence in caves and shell middens, of the previous inhabitants.

By the 1880's there were many very productive orchards around Pittwater. JJ Roche and his wife Katherine established a large award-winning orchard/ poultry farm, with their homestead immediately across the road from the present wharf. Early in the twentieth century they were joined by John Williams. For many years these two men and their families were leaders in the local community, with JJ Roche for example establishing first a Post Office and then adding a Telephone Office in the front of his home, and John Williams, with his boat-building business on the opposite waterfront, seeking to establish a motor bus service in competition with horse coaches, in 1907, before any such motor licenses even existed.

In 1898, with the Church Point wharf (1885) considered too remote, Bayview locals successfully lobbied the state government for a suitable wharf at Bayview. This was built in a then-common earthen groyne/wharf construction which was 140 feet long and reached up to the road. The Bayview Wharf was officially opened to much fanfare and with many important dignitaries travelling from Sydney for the occasion, on December 1, 1900. As President of the local Progress Association, JJ Roche welcomed the visitors.

In addition to serving increasing numbers of visitors the primary purpose of the wharf was to facilitate movement of produce, so a tram line with trolley was installed along the length of the wharf to the road.

Bayview Wharf, three women on slipway trolley by Cecil S Hartnett, Government Printing Office 1 - 04882, courtesy State Library of NSW.
Bayview Wharf, circa 1900. Broadhurst Image, Courtesy State Library of NSW.

 Bayview Wharf, circa 1909. Broadhurst Image 11061661h, courtesy State Library of NSW.

Initially, the wharf was maintained by the NSW government. When the Warringah Shire Council was established in 1906, this responsibility was transferred to that council. A small version of the Bayview Baths was added in 1915. From these early days, this area became very much a community social hub. 

Bay-view Post-office, which is connected with a general store, was destroyed by fire late on Monday night. The building was of two Floors, and built of weatherboard. The postmaster, Mr. T. E. Newney, and his wife, who were asleep on the top floor, found it impossible when awakened by the fire to descend the stairs. They reached the ground by means of a waterpipe. It was Impossible to save the place owing to the absence of a fire brigade in the district. The building was Insured for £600FIRE AT BAYVIEW. (1923, April 11). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 13. Retrieved from 

Thomas Edward Newey and his wife, occupiers of the Post Office dwelling and refreshment store at Bayview, near Pittwater, had thrilling experience last night, when the building was burnt to the ground. They escaped in their nightclothes by descending a downpipe and dropping on to a water tank. They were awakened shortly after 11 p.m. by the crackling of flames below. Mr. Newey found that It would be Impossible to descend the stairs, which were a mass of flames-Of weatherboard construction, the building was wonderful fuel for the flames. The only other way of leaving was through a window at the side of which a downpipe led from the guttering round the roof to a tank below. Mr. Newey and his wife climbed through the window, and after a difficult descent, managed to land safely on the tank, from which It was a comparatively easy Jump to the ground. The building was consumed In an incredibly short time. There Is no fire brigade in the District, and it was impossible to do anything to save the place. Mrs. Roach, of Mosman, was the owner. Newey’s place was in the nature of a landmark, and commanded a wonderful view of Pittwater on one side and as far as Palm Beach on the other.MIDNIGHT BLAZE. (1923, April 10). Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931), p. 10. Retrieved from 

In late 20's the official opening of the Aquatic Club was held on the wharf, with the Governor General in attendance. The Aquatic Club building subsequently served as an Ambulance Station when the nearest hospital was in Manly. With the opening of Mona Vale Hospital, this building became the home of the Bayview Sea Scouts.

PITTWATER. Anniversary Regatta.
'Pittwater Aquatic Club', circa 1925-1940. Image a409025 from Hood Collection part II - courtesy State Library of NSW
The Governor-General (Lord Stonehaven)was received at the Bayview Wharf on Saturday morning by Mr. John Roche, who introduced him to the president of the Warringah Shire Council, to Mr. Archdale Parkhill, M.P., Mr. C. A. Le Maistre Walker, C.B.E. (president of the regatta committee), Mt. R. W. ti,Weaver. M.L.A.. Mr. John Williams, Alderman S. H. Burns (hon. secretary of Balmain Regatta), Mr. H. G. Alderson (chairman of the New South Wales Rowing Association). Mr.W. N. Cuthbertson (general manager of the Newcastle and Hunter River Steamship Company), and Mrs. E. G. Greig. The Navy League Sea Cadets provided a guard of honour beneath arches of flags and greenery prepared by residents of the district. His Excellency then embarked on the motor cruiser Miramar, belonging to Mr. Stuart F. Doyle, commodore of the Royal Motor Yacht Club. At 3.30. p.m. Lord Stonehaven was received aboard the flag-ship Newcastle. PITTWATER. (1928, January 2). The Sydney Morning Herald(NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved from 

IN HIS ELEMENT. — His Excellency the Governor-General (Lord Stonehaven) -posed for 'Truth' at Pittwater Regatta yesterday. Commodore C. A. Le Maitre Walker, C.B.E., is on the extreme right of the. picture. Secretary John Roche comes next. On his right is the G.G., who is thoroughly at home on the water. Mr; Stuart Doyle, the motor boat enthusiast, is on the left of the Governor-General.  ALBERT, JR., SAILS TO VICTORY. (1928, January 1).Truth(Sydney, NSW : 1894 - 1954), p. 6. Retrieved from 
From Cedric and Iris (Sophie's) Williams Family collection - Courtesy of daughter Elizabeth Hird (nee Williams)

During the 1930's the original small baths were moved from the other side of the groyne to the present site, and greatly enlarged, reaching from the present end near the wharf, right up to the road. J Williams was now J Williams and Sons, and the families of his boat-builder sons Jack and Cedric, both living nearby, remember the baths as very much a place where neighbourhood children gathered on weekends and holidays. Indeed, their grandmother bathed there every day, rain or shine, for many years. Many other long-term local families have similar happy memories. In 1949 a Lion Island race between CM Williams and KCK Dalton led to the formation of Bayview Yacht Racing Association.

During this period, as part of BYRA, there was a very active Olympic Star Class fleet racing on Pittwater, competing for the chance to represent Australia at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne. Originally these yachts were launched from a gantry near the Scout Hall. When that area became too shallow, CM Williams established a rack with a lifting device, extending from the outside corner of the Baths. The Star Class fleet was subsequently stored and launched from this rack.

The final race of the Bayview Yacht Racing Association's Star Class yachts for the fleet championship was held at Pittwater yesterday. In this picture Hornet (C. M. Williams), 2nd in the race, and winner of the championship, leads Valsheda (B. Russell). STAR CLASS YACHT RACE. (1954, November 29). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 5. Retrieved from

As part of an agreement with council permitting them to re-build their boat-shed, J Williams and Sons part-filled the Baths to create the present Reserve and car park. The tram line was removed around this time. The Roche family continued to sell lots from the Roche Estate, and to donate land to add to Bayview Park.

In the 1970's, `mystery' sculptures turned up from time to time throughout the Shire. The `mystery' sculptor turned out to be Mick Leslie, who was working as a stonemason for the council at the time. Mick is responsible for the Easter Island statue by the steps in the Park.

During their bi-centennial visit in early 1988, the 1920's vice-regal visit of the Governor-General was eclipsed by a visit from Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

Prince Charles and Princess Diana at Bayview, courtesy Brian Friend OAM, formerly Pittwater Water Police
1990 to 2010's 
Seen as a total contrast to both backyard and ocean pools, the Baths continued to be popular with people of all ages, as are many similar pools in the Sydney area. The long row of steps provides for safe entry into the water, and seating for parents supervising young children. The adjacent grassland is a great spot for family picnics.

Celebrating 100 years as a Community Hub
Bayview and Church Point Residents believe the Baths would benefit from an upgrade, as they continue to be a popular community hub. Water quality is also a concern, and so Sydney Water has promised a review and commitment to work with Northern Beaches Council on any required remediation.
To express your support for restoration of the Baths, please contact the Bayview Church Point Residents Association

The Association is committed to preserving the natural beauty of our unique environment whilst balancing the need for controlled development to ensure the ongoing enjoyment for local residents and their families.

Contact via Email:
Postal: PO Box 348, Church Point, NSW 2105
Margaret Makin BCPRA Committee Member
L to R; Jan Tinkler, Margaret Tink, Jenny Rosen AM and Barbara Tink.
Hon. Bronwyn Bishop and Hon. Rob Stokes with Kylie Ferguson, Dr. Jenny Rosen AM and Brokebn Bay Unit Commander Victor Lawrence and BBMR Members
Janice Tynum - Peninsula Music Club (which hosts wonderful concerts in Bayview school) with David Graham and John Croke
Alison and Gwen - along with brother Max - are all members of the Shaw family who have a long association with Bayview and Church Point - these young ladies remembered great times swimming at the baths when they were younger.
Marine Rescue Broken Bay, at Bayview - when this was the Royal Volunteer Coastal Patrol they were based of Bayview then too
Report and current day pictures by A J Guesdon, 2016.